Oil and Gas Majors' Activities with Relation to Climate Change

The timeline provides a non-exhaustive list of articles and news reports capturing activities that international oil companies (ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell and Total) have undertaken with respect to climate change and renewable energy investments. This is mapped against key public events and climate change agreements. The timeline also includes shareholder resolutions related to climate change that have been submitted to these companies since the 1970s. The timeline is searchable and results can be filtered by category/company. We hope that the timeline is a useful tool to learn more about corporate approaches of these oil & gas companies towards climate change and investor engagement.

This tool is part of an ongoing research project at the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI) that seeks to assess how institutional investors can engage with the fossil fuel industry to move to a decarbonized world economy. For more information on CCSI and this project, please visit www.ccsi.columbia.edu;xNLx;;xNLx;Resolutions compiled from Thomson One, the Securities Exchange Commission and the UK National Storage Mechanism (NSM). Vote tallies compiled from company filings, CERES and public press releases.;xNLx;;xNLx;Carbon Majors image from a study titled “Tracing anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers, 1854-2010.” Available at: http://carbonmajors.org/;xNLx;;xNLx;This timeline is a living document and we welcome any contributions of news reports or feedback on how this tool could be improved to better serve the relevant stakeholders. Please report any broken links you may encounter. You can contact CCSI at ccsi@law.columbia.edu

1970-01-01 00:00:00

Shell's Early Alternative Business

Shell has a small solar and biomass business through the Seventies. (pg. 505)

1975-01-01 00:00:00

Formation of Exxon Nuclear

Exxon seriously looks at fossil fuel alternatives; forms the Exxon Nuclear division. (pg. 291)

1977-01-01 00:00:00

Exxon Makes First Solar Investments

Exxon Enterprises invests in two solar energy companies: the SolaPower Corporation and Daystar. (pg. 291)

1978-01-01 00:00:00

Exxon Invests in Lithium-Titanium Batteries

Exxon invests in and conducts research into lithium-titanium batteries. (pg. 291) (High-tech energy storage is/was seen as essential for renewable energies to be competitive)

1979-01-01 00:00:00

Exxon Enterprises Creates Solar Thermal Systems

(pg. 291)

1980-01-01 00:00:00

Total Makes Small Solar Investments

(pg. 15)

1980-01-01 00:00:00

Shell Invests in Solar in the Eighties

These solar investments (which were much smaller than BP's) "were part of a diversification strategy" since the oil market proved volatile in recent years. (pg. 13)

1981-01-20 00:00:00

Exxon Incurs a $500 Million Debt in Renewable Energy

Ronald Reagan drastically cuts the renewable energy subsidies of the Jimmy Carter administration. Responding to the ensuing corporate losses, an Exxon manager stated, "We are not looking to get into any business supported by government subsidies. We lost more than $500 million on renewables, and learnt a lot of lessons.” (pg. 179)

1981-03-01 00:00:00

BP Enters the Solar Arena

Marks first foray into solar. Acquires half of Lucas Energy Systems, which becomes Lucas BP Solar Systems.

1981-08-01 00:00:00

Exxon's Early Climate Change Knowledge

Exxon is the first Oil and Gas major known to have gained "internal climate expertise." (pg. 506, http://www.faculty.umb.edu/david_levy/EMJ01.pdf) In an environmental impact assessment, scientists and engineers figure how much CO2 would need to be vented if Indonesia's Natuna gas field were to be drilled. Mobil recognizes climate change in 1988.

1983-01-01 00:00:00

Amoco Buys the Solarex Corporation

Amoco, later acquired by BP, buys the entire Solarex Corporation after a couple years of part ownership. (pg. 292)

1984-01-01 00:00:00

BP Acquires Exxon Solar

Exxon sells off renewable energy assets, after the Reagan administration's subsidy cut ends the brief US solar boom of the late Seventies-early Eighties. BP increases solar interest.

1984-01-01 00:00:00

Exxon Develops a Climate Team

Creates “an informal climate team and network” and hires a scientist, a ‘skeptic,’ who, over the years, becomes a consistent climate change denier. (1, pg. 506)

1988-06-01 00:00:00

Climate Change Makes First Political Waves

Global Warming becomes a major issue in the US. An unusually warm summer brought climate change to the fore. Discussed by the news media and on Capitol Hill. James Hansen testifies before Congress on the science behind manmade climate change (pg. 503)

1988-12-06 00:00:00

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Established

The United Nations General Assembly endorses the IPCC. IPCC investigates the science behind anthropogenic climate change and mitigation strategies.

1989-01-01 00:00:00

BP Expands its Solar Operations to India

After growing its solar portfolio for nearly a decade, BP Solar enters the Indian solar market through a partnership with Tata Energy, creating Tata Power Solar Systems

1989-01-01 00:00:00

The Global Climate Coalition (GCC) Formed

Companies with fossil fuel interests come together to form the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) to stamp out greenhouse gas regulations. The GCC lobbies Congress and questions the scientific accuracy of climate change and points to the economic repercussions regulation would produce (pg. 503)

1990-12-01 00:00:00

Exxon Releases First Environmental Report

Releases its first environmental report in response to Exxon Valdez (related to oil and gas operations being clean and safe rather than climate change). Today, almost all oil and gas companies use environmental or sustainability reports to address climate change and carbon emissions among other issues. (1, pg. 504)

1991-06-01 02:24:43

Shell Film Warned about Climate Danger

The oil giant Shell issued a stark warning of the catastrophic risks of climate change more than a quarter of century ago in a prescient 1991 film that has been rediscovered.

1992-06-03 00:00:00

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development

Climate change began to grab European attention leading up to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the Earth Summit. (pg. 503)

1994-01-01 00:00:00

Total Begins to Produce BioFuels

Enter story info here

1994-01-01 00:00:00

BP Corporate Gets More Serious about Alternative Energy

Founds the subsidiary BP Alternative Energy North America. Responsible for wind operations, co-generation projects, and natural gas power plants in the Americas and Europe. Including natural gas within the alternative energy subsidiary perhaps presaged BP's present support for natural gas as a less carbon-intensive fossil fuel.

1994-01-01 00:00:00

Shell Restructures and Names a New Chairman

Cor Herkstroter is named Shell chairman. He begins to make Shell more transparent after controversies like investments in an unstable Nigeria and the nixed sinking of the Brent Spar oil platform after the plan turned into a fiasco drawing environmental activists' ire and the public's attention. This shift in leadership eventually allowed Shell to overcome entrenched corporate obstacles and begin to accept the legitimacy of climate change. (pg. 506)

1994-01-01 00:00:00

BP Advances Solar Technology

BP Solar makes serious inroads by developing polycrystalline solar panel technology profitably.

1995-01-01 00:00:00

BP Publishes Its First Environmental Report

After oil spills, the Brent Spar fiasco, and human health problems and corruption in Nigeria, BP publishes its first environmental report (pg. 504). Later, these reports would address climate concerns too.

1995-01-01 00:00:00

GCC's Deceit

Despite promulgating the idea that climate science is faulty, "GCC climate experts accepted the impact of human activity on climate change in their internal communications as early as 1995." These GCC scientists were lead by Lenny Bernstein, who had worked for Exxon and Mobil (prior to the merger) as their climate expert and as a chemical engineer.

1996-01-01 00:00:00

BP Leaves the GCC

BP displays its progressiveness and ends its relationship with the Global Climate Coalition, which questioned the science behind global warming and hampered the adoption of GHG regulations. (page)

1997-01-01 00:00:00

BP Makes a $1 Billion Solar Commitment

Chief Executive John Browne announces BP will increase solar investments 10 fold from $100 million/year to $1 billion per/year. Also commits $20 million to build “one centralized [solar] manufacturing plant for the US market.” (page)

1997-01-01 00:00:00

Shell Publishes its first Environmental Report

These reports go on to address measures to prevent oil spills, ecological protection, and climate change (pg. 502).

1997-01-01 00:00:00

Shell Makes Significant Renewable Energy Moves

1. Pledges a $500 million, five-year investment in renewable energy (Building Green link) including $250 million to solar panel manufacture (pg. 13, http://www.researchgate.net/publication/251560823_The_development_and_commercialization_of_solar_PV_technology_in_the_oil_industry). 2. Refers to renewable energy as its ‘fifth core business,’ which would be administered by Shell International Renewables (Building Green). 3. Predicts renewables will supply 50% of the globe’s energy needs by 2050, and by 2020 will be a $245 billion/year business (Building Green).

1997-05-01 00:00:00

BP Recognizes Manmade Climate Change

BP publicly recognizes the science behind climate change and holds that it is a problem that must be addressed.

1997-09-01 00:00:00

Shell Recognizes Climate Change

Shell publically recognizes climate change as a problem that must be addressed. (pg. 502)

1998-01-01 00:00:00

Shell Leaves the GCC

Shell leaves the Global Climate Coalition, the group that lobbied against emission targets and questioned climate change's legitimacy (pg. 502)

1998-01-01 00:00:00

BP Anticipates Major Involvement in Renewables

BP’s CEO John Browne projects its holdings in renewables would total 5 percent by 2020 and 50 percent of its business' portfolio by 2060. (page)

1998-03-18 01:34:42

Climate Change Risk Report Resolution (Province of the St Capuchin Order)

Shareholders from the Province of the St Capuchin Order request the Board create a committee of its outside directors to independently review by August 1998, a full report about the impacts of climate change on Exxon's present policies and practices. Among issues to be treated include 1 )any anticipated liabilities Exxon may incur from its possible contribution to the problem 2) what the company can do to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from our fossil fuels Exxon tried to block the resolution by telling the Securities and Exchange Commission that the supporting statement for the resolution was false and misleading because “it implies a scientific certainty on climate change which, in fact, does not exist.” Resolution filer countered by noting the resolution remarks were all based on the Business Week’s report of Lee Raymond’s remarks.Also noted that the one scientist named by Exxon to support its position of questioning the results of the IPCC had disassociated himself from such a portrayal. SEC agreed. The proxy for the annual meeting of Exxon in April included the resolution.

1999-01-01 00:00:00

Total becomes a Supermajor

Became a “supermajor,” one of the six largest oil and gas companies, upon a merger with Petrofina (’99) and Elf Aquitaine (’00). Had been owned by the French government for years. Even after increasing privatization through the Nineties, Total retained a close relationship with the government. To an extent, this special relationship shielded Total from the “same kind of pressure from non-governmental organizations to deal with climate change.” (pg. 15)

1999-01-01 00:00:00

BP's Climate Action Following Kyoto

With climate concern on the uptick following the Kyoto Conference, BP, along with other British companies, announces voluntary carbon trading as a reasonable market solution to the British Government. The market solution limits the prospects of governmental regulation in the form of an energy tax (pg. 504).

1999-01-01 00:00:00

Shell's Climate Action Following Kyoto

With climate concern on the uptick following the Kyoto Conference, Shell, along with other British and Dutch companies, announces voluntary carbon trading as a reasonable market solution. Before Kyoto, Dutch companies had already decided they would take part in international energy efficiency standard-setting. After Kyoto, Dutch companies "committed themselves to the objective of becoming the world’s most energy efficient firms" by 2012. These climate conscious goals countered governmental regulation. (pg. 504)

1999-01-01 00:00:00

BP Acquires Solarex, Becomes Largest Solar Company

BP Solar becomes the “largest vertically integrated” solar company in the world after the acquisition of Solarex from Enron (Solarex formerly had ties to Exxon and Amoco). (Pg. 11)

1999-01-01 00:00:00

BP's "Plug in The Sun" Solar Program Recognized

The US Transnational Resource and Action Center awards BP the Greenhouse Greenwash award for BP’s “‘Plug in the Sun’ solar programme,” which put solar panels on filling stations around the world.

2000-01-01 00:00:00

"Beyond Petroleum" Rebranding

BP launches its “Beyond Petroleum” rebranding campaign. Adopts a “broader [energy] focus.” (pg. 11)

2000-02-01 00:00:00

US Oil and Gas Uniformly Questions Climate Change

From 1989 with the emergence of the climate denying GCC to February of 2000, American oil and gas companies uniformly question the science behind climate change and point to the economic costs of regulation. In 2000, Texaco breaks away from the GCC and "recognizes the climate problem." Texaco invests more in less carbon intensive natural gas. Of the alternatives, Texaco homed in on geothermal because it best matched Texaco’s “core competencies in geology and drilling” (pgs. 502-03, 05).

2000-04-14 09:00:00

Province of the St Capuchin Order Exxon Renewable Energy Shareholder Resolution

Province of the St Capuchin Order filed a resolution seeking Exxon to develop strategic plans to help bring bioenergy and other renewable energy sources into Exxon's energy mix. The 2000 resolution won a share of 6.2% votes. Shareholders requested the Board of Directors to adopt a company policy to promote renewable energy sources consistent with the newly-created Cabinet-level council and to develop strategic plans to help bring bioenergy and other renewable energy sources into Exxon's energy mix. The resolutions requested that Shareholders shall be kept advised regularly as to the ways Exxon is moving from what we believe is over-dependence on fossil fuels to the promotion and marketing of renewables.

2001-01-01 00:00:00

Total's First Solar Joint Venture

Total’s first serious move into solar, acquires 47.8% of Photovoltech (headquartered in India), a €14 million joint venture with GDF Suez (now Engine), a multinational French electric utility, and IMEC, which is a Belgian nonprofit researching small electronics and solar technologies. Photovoltech focuses on R & D and multi-crystalline silicon solar cell production. (pg. 16)

2001-01-01 00:00:00

Shell Invests in Solar PV Research

Shell enters an equal partnership with Siemens and the electric utility E.ON to research crystalline PV technology (pg. 14)

2001-01-01 00:00:00

Exxon joins Hydrogen Fuel Cell Effort

Exxon teams up with General Motors and Toyota to research and create a viable hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle (1, pg. 508)

2001-04-01 00:00:00

"Beyond Petroleum" Slogan Reined in

John Browne clarifies the misleading Beyond Petroleum message telling participants at the 2001 Annual General Meeting that BP intends to remain an oil and gas company. (pg. 507)

2001-04-18 09:00:00

Province of the St Capuchin Order Exxon Renewable Energy Shareholder Resolution

Building on the 2000 resolution, Province of the St Capuchin Order filed a resolution for the second year in a row, noting that "ExxonMobil continues to resist efforts urging management to wean itself from pollution-causing fuels". The resolution also noted that competitors Royal Dutch/Shell Group and BP, have increased significantly development of renewables. "..we believe its ongoing denial of climatic effects from fossil fuel burning is increasingly isolating it from the innovative policies and strategies of our main international competitors (such as Shell and BP)". The 2001 resolution won an increased share of 8.9% votes. RESOLVED: That shareholders request the Board to adopt a company policy to promote renewable energy sources consistent with the Cabinet-level council newly-created to enhance renewable energy sources and to develop strategic plans to help bring bioenergy and other renewable energy sources into ExxonMobil's energy mix. Shareholders request they be kept advised regularly as to the ways our Company is moving from its self-stated 'insignificant percentage of the company's business' in renewable energy resources to the promotion and marketing of renewables." "Support for this resolution will indicate shareholder desire to de-emphasize the production of fossil fuels and the development of more non-polluting, environmentally-friendly approaches to renewable energy sources"

2001-12-31 00:00:00

BP Major Player in PV Panel Sales

BP becomes the 2nd largest vendor of PV cells in the world, selling 58 MW that year. (pg. 12)

2002-01-01 00:00:00

Shell Significantly Steps up Solar Investment

Shell Acquires all of Siemens’ and E.ON’s shares in crystalline PV research. In so doing, Shell gains “mono-crystalline and multi-crystalline cell technologies,...mainstream solar technologies, and thin-film technology,” which was in its early stages at the time (pg. 14).

Oil and Gas Majors' Activities with Relation to Climate Change

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